TWELVE robberies or attempted break-ins at ATM machines in just over six weeks has prompted an appeal for members of the public to be vigilant.
Nine of the attacks on the machines happened this month, with the latest early on Wednesday at a shop on a main street of a village in Fermanagh.
The PSNI said there are common elements to the attacks, with all them in rural or semi-rural locations and most happening in the early hours of the morning.
A lead officer investigating the attacks described them as “a crime that strikes at the very heart of the local community”.
“And my ask is simple and two-fold. I’m asking members of the public to be vigilant; and I’m appealing to anyone with information, even if it seems insignificant, to contact us immediately,” said a Detective Superintendent Neill.
“The 12 ATMs in question, and the recent attacks, have some elements in common. Almost all are within a rural or semi-rural location. Furthermore, most of the attacks have taken place in the early hours of the morning.
“While some of the attempts have been unsuccessful, all have resulted in some degree of criminal damage to the machine or surrounding property.”
On six occasions, criminals managed to successfully break in to the machines and steal cash.
These were at Feeny Road, Dungiven, Mussenden Road, Articlave and Ballygawley Road, Cabragh, all in February.
A further three were successfully breached in March at Dungannon Road in Portadown, Chapel Street, Poyntzpass and on Wednesday on Main Street, Tempo, in Fermanagh.
In the latest, and like the others, the thieves managed to force open a door in the cash machine.
Det Supt Neill said: “These targeted attacks don’t just have a severe financial impact, they rob the whole community of a service upon which they’re totally reliant.
“We have a dedicated team of detectives working across Northern Ireland specifically focusing on this crime, but we rely upon your help. Your support could make all the difference.
"If you see or hear anything that doesn’t seem quite right, for example, if you see vehicles or people loitering in areas close to ATMs, when shops are closed, call us on 101. Likewise, if you hear machinery late at night or in the early hours, please pick up the phone. If you think a crime is in progress please dial 999 immediately.”